Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

57 plus 34: Nightmares

Posted: 20 September 2021 in 57 plus
Tags: , ,

I don’t like nightmares.

Not a huge surprise, I suspect. I’m not giving away any secrets or anything; most people don’t like nightmares. Except that it’s not mere ‘lack of enjoyment’ (which is all ‘don’t like’ means, after all). I actively dislike them. And even that doesn’t quite convey my utter detestation, my visceral loathing, of them.

I’ve suffered from nightmares for as long as I can recall. I remember waking up from one as a kid, running downstairs, convinced that I’d been in a plane crash and somehow been transported back into my bed just in time… interrupting my parents’ dinner party and then pretty much ending it, I believe.

I was very young.

But now, as an adult, I’ve suffered from frequent nightmares, at least a couple of times a week, and sometimes a few times a night, for more than a decade. A friend., who witnessed me going through them, said I was almost pantomime-like in the moments before I awoke, as if I was in a low budget horror film, tossing and turning, moaning incoherently in my sleep, before bolting upright or suddenly going rigid before waking.

(And now, for the first time, I wonder if my complete and utter hatred of nightmares has anything to do with my equally strong dislike of horror movies and tv shows. Or whether it’s maybe vice versa. Huh.)

But yes, people on twitter are not unused to seeing something like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or even this:

…heading backwards just through the past few years.

I’m sure that anyone reading this can detect a thread running through the nightmares I’ve shown above.

Wild animals, chunks being taken out of me, being paralysed, close friends involved – either watching passively by, or even cheering it on; being buried alive or my fucked-up-foot being crushed, sawn off, or in one memorable case – shudder – each toe being peeled the length of my foot in turn.

Oh, and once or twice, being part of a scene straight out of Hieronymus Bosch.

I mean, I’ve never been much for dream analysis, to be honest, but I’m sure someone experienced in the field could tell me exactly what each bit signifies.

I wouldn’t care. Honestly.

I mean, they could say “it means you’re worried that… people don’t trust you, or you don’t trust them”, or “it means that you fear abandonment” or “you have an aversion to commitment”.

I mean, I think that what my dreams signify is that I have an aversion to being buried alive and a fear of wild animals ripping chunks out of me.

So, you know, could be anything. There’s a suggestion that dreams and nightmares are just the brain taking advantage of you being asleep – and not doing anything else – to clear the decks, so to speak. I’m sure that’s true.

And the chemicals, neurons firing and basically wiping some slates clean… dreams are just your brain trying to form a narrative around things that don’t make sense. In which case, no point in even worrying about it. It’s just a natural process. And if you always get nightmares instead of ‘nice dreams’, well, that’s just your mind being a bit fucked up in finding a suitable narrative.

So be it.

I do find it bemusing that I only rarely dream of the classic horror tropes; no vampires for me, no werewolves, no zombies. Occasionally harpies are in the mix of the ‘ripping chunks out of me’ but only in the crowd.

And most of the other archetypical nightmare scenarios are absent from mine. No drowning, no falling from huge heights, no being chased by a stranger, no death (though at times, it would have been a mercy), no being lost.

None of those. Odd, huh?

What nightmares tend to do, however, is leave me unsettled, anxious, and irritable as hell for the rest of the day. It’s more than possible that this is unwarranted, that my reaction to them is over-reaction. After all, I don’t have to change the bedding that often because I’ve sweated through it, and it’s been months since I had to do it twice in one night.

And it’s not as if I’m going to ruin anyone else’s night’s sleep. I live alone, I sleep alone and it’s been a very long time since anyone had reason to worry about my nightmares while they’re occurring.

The one thing that does fascinate me about them, however, genuinely, is how long I’m having a nightmare for before I wake.

Is it minutes, or longer… or does my brain come up with the sheer horror that is one of my nightmares in the half a second between being asleep and being awake.

Two more thoughts before I close this shorter than usual post.

I don’t remember ‘nice dreams’, almost never. I mean, sex dreams, yes, occasionally, but I’ve kept this place and its predecessor – for the most part, anyway – an all-ages place, so let’s not talk about those.

But ‘nice dreams’, dreams that leave me feeling cheerful or pleased or even merely content. I’m sure I have such dreams; it’d be frankly weird if I never had any nice dreams. But I never remember them. I mean, sure, it’d be lovely if I remembered them and not the nightmares.

But I long ago, as with some much else, became good-naturedly resigned to that, with occasional periods of being very bad-naturedly resigned to it.

Finally, on two occasions, I’ve used nightmares as the spine, the skeleton, of fast fictions. I was both pleased and slightly weirded out that both of them got ‘your mind scares me at times’ reactions from readers.

Anyway, see you tomorrow, with… the usual ‘Tuesday ‘something else’.

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Sparked by a friend’s comment today about how I don’t tend to sleep that much (it’s true – I usually get about five hours a night), here are some good quotes I’ve stored over the years about sleeping, bedtime and just, you know, going to bed:

“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.” — Ralph Waldorf Emerson

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” — Ernest Hemingway

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” — Bob Dylan

“My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.” — Cary Grant

These two are not as contradictory as I first thought, you know…

And, finally, dedicated to so many of my friends… and me.

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spent the rest of the day putting the pieces together.’ — Ray Bradbury